Road Trip: Golden, Colorado

DH has been preparing for this bucket list ride for months (or arguably, for years).  This was his year for the 2017 Triple Bypass cycling event . . . and it was cancelled.  But for the ride, we would not have been in Golden — not that we would NEVER have gone there, but we have lived in Colorado 24 years and never even driven through the city.

We loved our short visit:

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Not named after gold, but after early prospector Thomas Golden.
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On the campus of Colorado School of Mines. No donkeys, no mining …
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The one-room Guy Hill schoolhouse at Clear Creek History Park, with the mountainside “M” (for Colorado School of Mines).

DH still went for a 64-mile ride:

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The city, from Lookout Mountain.
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A denizen of Lookout Mountain.
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Juniper Pass

Other fun things:

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A much-modified late-19th century house . . . .
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. . . . with a modern shed-roofed addition around the corner to the rear . . . .

and, wait for it:

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. . . . a set of row houses attached to the other side of the original house.

Sigh.   But what fun would it have been if I couldn’t laugh at some atrocious renovations?

Fixer Upper: When It Goes Wrong

HGTV is my go-to station while running on the treadmill, and my favorite show is probably Fixer Upper, starring America’s sweetheart couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I don’t know when that couple sleeps, especially Joanna:  wife, mother, baker, designer, blogger.  I hope they really are as nice as they appear on the show; I would hate for them to implode the way the Flip or Flop couple did.

Anyway.  Joanna Gaines has great taste; I may not always like her design choices, but I can also see that other people do, and I can admire without wanting my house to look like her staged houses.  But then there is the Chapman House:

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Credit: Rachel Whyte, from HGTV.com/shows/fixer-upper/a-first-home-for-avid-dog-lovers-pictures
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Photo credit: Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images, from HGTV.com/shows/fixer-upper/a-first-home-for-avid-dog-lovers-pictures

The original house was a ranch style house with an atrocious second-story addition …  not much you can do about it, but the exterior renovation on this part of the house looks good.

The porch, on the other hand … I am going to assume Joanna had a temporary blackout.  Why would she think a gigantic unpainted rustic porch more appropriate to a Colorado mountain cabin would be a good thing to tack on a mid-century ranch?  This is the sort of addition that on another HGTV show would be the first thing to be torn down.  I can think of different porch designs that she (or rather, an architect) could have added to the front to balance the house.  This is not it.

The Chapman House porch reminds me of another spectacularly bad renovation in my neighborhood:

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The Ski Jump House

This house is part of a post-war development where most of the houses were uninspiring Minimal Traditional style homes ranging from 800 – 1000 square feet.  The neighborhood is a bit run-down with most of the houses being student rentals, but that is probably changing just because of the ridiculous housing boom in the city.  The original house can still be seen, with new windows, new French doors, new stucco, and of course, the enormous ski jump masquerading as a porch.  This house has been a work-in-progress for a year; I wish they had stopped a year ago.   Or done something like this house, a block down the street, renovated with added square footage over the same time period:

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The owners kept the integrity of the original house, and respected the over all spirit of the post-war neighborhood.  Well done.

Anger Management

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January 20, 2017

Optimism, in front of a non-denominational, non-profit community coffee house.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe it.  Not only do I not believe it, I am not sure it is all that helpful right now.  But that is because I continue to be angry.

My word for the year is SHOULD:  it is an insidious, neither here-nor-there sort of word, it commits you to nothing.  I should work on my anger.

On Carnival Barker’s inauguration day, I cleared dog poop along the trail.  Now, I do trail cleanup pretty much every day (my personal — if tiny — commitment to the environment), but it seemed especially appropriate that day.  It also seemed like there were even more piles than usual.  As I said, inauguration day.  And for a couple of hours, I did something more useful to me than inadequate messages of optimism:  I worked on my anger.

Argumentation of Historians

The collective noun for a group of historians is an “argumentation.”  No kidding!  So, what could be more fun than hanging out with a bunch of doctors?   That’s right, hanging out with an argumentation of historians.  And there are an awful lot of very smart people doing seriously good work — as historian Hugh Trevor-Roper once said, “. . . history that is not controversial is dead history.”  And he of course was no stranger to controversy.

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association is in Denver, and I (via public transportation no less!) managed to attend a few sessions.  No question medical conferences are better managed, and the really good ones are quite efficient at getting the latest information out to the maximum number of people in well-organized chunks. History conferences, on the other hand, are somewhat nebulous.  The AHA does its best, but when 25 sessions are running concurrently in each time slot, it is difficult not to feel that you are missing out.  Because of course you are missing out, probably on a brilliant talk in the next meeting room.

At the presentation level, I would argue that doctors in general make better speakers.  Different material, certainly, but some skills are universal:  speak clearly, and please emphasize your key points.  I sat in on a session titled “Doing Indigenous History,” and I am sure I would have learned more had I been able to understand the speakers better:  (1) slow down and enunciate (preferably into the mic); (2) do not speak as though everything were an aside; (3) do not slide into vocal fry or inflect your sentences into questions unless you really are from Down Under (Angel Hinzo, you are doing important research, but you sounded like a teenage girl and not a serious scholar when you phrase your findings as questions, because that unconscious upward inflection undermines your academic authority); (4) and please please please observe the niceties and remove your hat (Jordan Lee Craddick, the hat may be your “thing,” but seriously, at a conference presentation?)

I pick on Craddick and Hinzo because I have high hopes for them.  Both of them are at the beginning of their career, and I think they can learn a thing or two from their panel moderator Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a historian who has been around for awhile and who knows a thing or two about being authoritative.  In the meantime, I think Craddick and Hinzo are both going to do interesting things, and I look forward to them making controversy and keeping American history challenging.

On a different subject:

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I wonder if anyone else (that would be any other historian) were bothered by the apostrophe abuse.  Clearly whoever authorized the signs at the Colorado Convention Center never bothered to learn the rules.  As DH would say, my personal windmills . . .

In the Autumn of My Life

When white American men get angry and scared, they elect someone who is all they think they want to be.  He is white, he has gobs of money, he is a taker of women, money, property.  He is a racist, he is anti-intellectual, he is apparently amazingly potent — look at the much-younger beautiful-but-thick-as-a-brick wife, the many kids!  He would turn back the clock for all these angry and scared white men to a time when everyone knew where people of color belonged, where women belonged, where there were no such things as LGBT people (let alone rights for them), where Americans were home-grown and had a special relationship with God, where American military-industrial complex governed the world.

As a citizen, an immigrant, a woman, an intellectual, a believer in the rationality of science, a basically ethical human being, I am saddened by the election.  As a historian, I will take the long view, and I know America will survive this.  I don’t believe in American exceptionalism, but I do believe in American resilience.  I am happy to live in a state that did NOT vote him in, and I will do something I never really did before: pay attention to state’s rights.  As a doctor, I am glad that Colorado has become the 6th state to allow right-to-die measures for the terminally ill.  It was a sad election day, but with bright spots and hope intact for the future, for the next four years I will do my best to take care of my little corner of America.

In that little corner, I have other things to think about:

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It’s not just any old knife:  I coveted this knife for the last two decades, and almost two years after Mom died, I brought her knife home.  Today I took it to Jim, my favorite knife sharpener.  He has been retired for years, but he sets up his tools every year during the summer outside one of our local grocery stores, and the rest of the year he sharpens knives and tools out of his garage.  Every time I bring in my other Mac knife (swiped from Mom years ago), he tells me how much he loves these Japanese knives.  Dad took care of Mom’s knives the old-fashioned way, with a whetstone.  This knife was Mom’s everyday/everything knife, and in the last few years, Dad stopped sharpening it for her, much the same way he stopped doing various things around the house for her.  Since her death, he has also stopped doing things for himself.

Dad is down to skin-and-bones now; he can barely get himself out of bed, he needs help bathing, he has a walker he hates to use but has to because he fell and broke his wrist.  Dad was a skinny kid and a skinny young man.  After he came to America, he finally developed a belly.  That belly would go up and down a bit and up again, and when it got too Pooh-like, Mom would put him on a diet.  For 50-something years, he had that belly, and he lost it all in the last year.  I help him bathe, and I am shocked by all he is now.  No fat, no muscle, just skin and bones.  He is so brittle.

I wait for Mom to take him home.

Travel Diary: Amsterdam

August 4 Sunday

Took a carriage and drove about the city and about the locks.  Went through the royal palace.  The large [] hall is 1 hundred feet high and very handsome.  Then went to the [Rijks]museum and saw some of the pictures.  Saw one by [Rembrandt] which is very fine called the Night Watch.  Then went to a very nice cafe and took dinner.  Then went to the Zoological Gardens which one of the finest we have seen.  The houses here are all built in blocks and have hooks in the attic to haul things up by.  They are very homely and some of them old.  We saw one marked 167-.  They bend over on back and all most all are out of the perpendicular.

August 5 Monday

Took a drive to the Zuider Zee and saw them building sluice ways.  The water of the Zuider Zee is 30 feet higher than Amsterdam  The carriage left us at the diamond cutting establishment and we went through it.  First they split the diamond and then cut it and then polish it and there is a great deal of work in it.  There are over 10,000 people in the diamond work in Amsterdam.

Then we went to the old silver shops and I wanted to buy some thing but everything is very expensive.  Passed by the Beurs where there were a great children playing.  They allow the children to play there a few days in August and September because in the 17th century some boys that were playing there found out a conspiricy against Amsterdam by some Spanish.

Some of the women here wear very queer head dresses and wodden shoes.  Some of the headdresses have a metal piece behind and a white [muslin] cap over it and gold ornaments on the side of their face.

Miss Mary’s diary ends here.  According to a local notice in May,  Dr. J. B. Andrews had taken a three-months leave for an European vacation, so I am assuming Mary had a second booklet to continue her travel diary.  The last few pages consist of items she bought (and their prices!) as well as a list of gift recipients.  Dr. Matzinger made the list, although at the time she finished this diary she had not found a present for him.  

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It has been an interesting journey for me:  I have been digging around in the attic, so to speak.  The diary is not historically important or personally revelatory — Mary was only 14 years old, after all.  But I appreciate her naiveté and the assumption of American exceptionalism that peeked through even in her mind-numbing recounting of destinations.  I would love to know what she looked like.   I hope a family portrait exists.  Mary and her mother were both prominent members of the Buffalo Historical Society (at some point they presented the organization with a portrait of Dr. Andrews), so I think somewhere in the archives is a picture of her.  The Racist Salon Owner accused me specifically (and historians in general) of being a snoop.  Perhaps.  But I do in fact know where the line is, and I do know when to stop.   I stopped digging around the time I figured out who left the diary at the bookstore.  The diary is now making its way to one of Mary’s other descendents.  I already miss her young voice.  

Travel Diary: Germany

July 31 Wednesday

Took a walk around town and it is the prettiest town we have seen.  Went to the [Trinkhalle] where the hot water from the springs comes and the people come to drink.  The town is full of trees and a little stream runs through it which makes it very pretty.  Went to some very pretty shops and bought some things.  In the afternoon took a drive to the castle which is a very picturesk ruins.  It was destroyed by the French in 17 uncle Louis XIV.  From here we got a lovely view of the surrounding country and Baden Baden.  In the evening went to the [Conversationshaus] and heard a very nice concert.

August 1 Thursday

Left this morning about nine oclock for Heidelberg and arrived about noon.  After lunch drove to the castle which is the finest ruin in Germany.  It is very large and has a great many old carved stone figures on the out side of it.  The oldest part was built in 1294 and other electors added to it.  In the cellar is [] tun which holds 50,000 gallons and a statue of the court jester who drank 30 bottles of wine a day and also a clock made by him.  It has a clock face on the outside but when you pull a string a foxes tail flies out.

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Karl Lange: Grosses Fass (Heidelberg Tun), 1896. From Karl Pfaff, “Heidelberg and Umgebung,” Heidelberg: J Horning, 1902. Digital image from Wikimedia Commons.

We went into the museum which has things connected with the castle and also the engagement ring of Luther.  Got a nice of [][] outside a church with stalls to sell things in a workshop built around it and also the university.  Took the train at 3.50 for [Mainz] and arrived about six oclock.  After dinner took a ride on the street car and saw the cathedral which is very queer looking and has five towers on it each one entirely different from the other and also the statue of Gudenberg.

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Gutenberg memorial with Mainz Cathedral in background, 2005. Imgage by Ingo Staudacher, released into Wikimedia Commons.

August 2 Friday

It rained this morning but [] after a while.  Took a steamer for Cologne.  Saw a great many old castles ruined some restored and was very much interested in them.  Saw two castles that they call the Cat and the Mouse.  In the Mouse bishop [Hatto] was eaten up by mice because he had some peasants burned in his farm.

(Much confusion here, with Maus Burg and Katz Burg being mixed in with the legend of Archbishop Hatto of Maiz and the Mäuseturm (or Mouse Tower), a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine near Bingen am Rhein)

Saw some castles restored and they looked very pictureske.  A number of castles belong to the Prince and Princess of Prussia.  Saw the ruin of Reichenberg and the legend about it is that the seven beauty daughters of Reichenberg were bathing in the Rhine and some changed into rocks.  We saw some rocks but did not know which they were.

(More confusion with castles and legends:  The seven sisters lived in the Schönburg, and were heartless coquettes who refused to marry the knights who came to ask for their hands in marriage.  The river god turned them into rocks for their mockery of the worthy suitors.  Such a typically mysogynistic fairy tale.)

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Schoenburg and Oberwesel, the Rhine, Germany, c. 1890-1910. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00873

The ruined Rheinfels castle is very large and handsome.  Saw the ruin of Rolandseck castle which was built by Roland a nefiew of Charlemagne to overlook the island of [Nonnenwerth] where his betrothed Hildegard had taken the veil.  The legend is that Roland went to the wars and Hildegard heard that he was killed and took the veil and when he came back he built the castle to overlook the nunnery and when he heard she died he was killed by the news.

Farther down the river we passed near the ruined castle of Drachenfels which is one of the most pictureske castles on the river and near it a new castle which is very handsome.

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Ruin of Castle Drachenfels in Koenigswinter, Germany, c. 1890-1905. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00823

Arrived at Cologne about half past four and went to the [] Hotel.  Took a walk and went to the Cathedral.  The front is more beautiful than the Milan one but the interior is not as well proportioned I don’t think.

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Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Image c.1885 by Anselm Schmitz (1831-1903). Wikimedia Commons.

The stained glass windows are beautiful.  We went into the sacristy and saw the gold and silver box all set with precious stones that they say holds the skulls of the three wise men. It is the finest thing of the kind in the world.   After dinner took a drive about the city and went through the new part.  The houses are all built in blocks but they are very handsome.  The handsomest thing of the kind we have seen.

August 3 Saturday

Took a carriage and drove through the old part of the city and in the window of a house saw two wooden horse heads.  The legend about it is this at the time of the plague this man who owned the house wife died and they buried her in the church of the apostles and she was buried with her wedding ring on.  The grave diggers noticed this and after the funeral dug the body up to take the ring off.  This woke her from her trance and she went to her house and asked admission.  When her husband heard who was at the door he said my wife is dead and she would no more come back than my horse would look out of the loft of my house.  Just then he heard the stamping of hoofs.  And the horses heads were put there to commemorate this event.  We looked into the Church of the Apostles.  And went into the Church of St. [Gereon] which is finished in fresco which is very pretty and it also has very pretty stained glass.  Then went to the Church of Saint Ursula where we saw the bones of the 11,000 virgins that were killed by the Huns at Cologne.

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Treasury of St. Ursula, Cologne, the Rhine, Germany, c. 1890-1900. Image from Detroit Publishing Co., 1905. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00812.

The bones are arranged in glass cases along the walls of part of the Church and in another part of the church the walls are filled with bones and little pinholes to look at them through in the walls.  There is a monument to St. Ursula and her bones in the Church and a wine jug that they say came from the marriage feast at Cana in the sacristy but we did not go in.

Then we went to the Cathedral and then to the shops.  Left for Amsterdam at 1.40 and was late so arrived about 8 oclock.  Saw lots of wind mills on the way.